Head coach Bobby Wilder continues to produce successful results for the Monarchs despite the jump to FBS play in 2013. The Monarchs (8-3) play as an independent program before making the jump to Conference USA in 2014. Old Dominion opened the season with back-to-back road games against power conference programs, East Carolina and Maryland. Wilder's team showed signs of promise against the Pirates in a 52-38 losing effort but came up well short against the Terrapins in a 47-10 defeat. From that rocky start the Monarchs reeled out four straight victories against Howard, Citadel, Albany and Liberty before matching up with another ACC opponent in Pittsburgh. The Monarchs proved they were no easy out after playing a close contest with the Panthers in 35-24 loss. Since that point in the season the Monarchs haven't suffered a loss and own a four-game winning streak.
Offensively, Old Dominion relies on the quarterback play of Taylor Heinicke to create positive plays both in the passing game and the ground game. The Monarchs average 161 rushing yards per game and 374 passing yards per contest on the season. The top target through the air for Heinicke is wide out Larry Pinkard (59 rec, 816 yards) who leads the team in both receptions and receiving yards.
Defensively, freshman linebacker Richie Staton leads the team with four sacks on the season and ranks third on the team in tackles (63). Two other notable defensive standouts for the Monarchs are Fellonte Misher (82 tackles) and D.J. Simon (three interceptions). This contest concludes the 2013 season for Old Dominion and sets up for their adaptation of a bowl appearance with a road game against an ACC opponent.
"Our football team is looking forward to playing an 8-3 Old Dominion football team that has been coached very well and who is in the middle of the transition from FCS to FBS, and these guys have done a tremendous job. They have got a great quarterback, a kid that's completing over 71 percent of his balls. He's got four receivers that are catching over 40 balls. They really move it around quite a bit and have done a tremendous job."- UNC head coach Larry Fedora
"They're clearly better than we are going into this matchup so it's going to take a monumental effort by Old Dominion. We're going to have do everything right and then we're going to have to hope that we get a little bit of help from the football gods on Saturday. I feel like we have better knowledge of what we're doing. I feel like we've gained confidence overall as a program, particularly coming out of that Pitt game. My concern is physically, that we don't match up against this team, physically. We don't match up in the interior line. That's a major concern, and that's where the game starts." - Wilder
"This is it for us. This is our last game. We're not going to hold anything back. I'm more concerned right now with the process of getting to the fourth quarter and being in the game." – Wilder
Player to Watch
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke continues to garner praise for his ability to make plays and consistently deliver positive play from the pocket. He has delivered both through the air and on the ground for the Monarchs this season. The sophomore has thrown for 3,351 yards through the air and rushed for an additional 348 yards. Heinicke is responsible for putting up 34 total touchdowns on the season matched up against just eight interceptions.
"I tell you what, he is a very talented young man," Fedora said. "Earlier in the year, as we watched crossover tape, kept seeing him against various defenses. All of our staff kept making comments on, wow, that quarterback is special.
"I mean, he can extend plays. He's got a great arm. He knows where to go with the ball. He's just a playmaker is what he is and there's no doubt he was-- you can see why he was the national Player of the Year last year in the FCS. He's a sophomore. The guy is very, very talented and does a great job within their offense. And I think Bobby Wilder and those guys do a great job using all his tools."